Last Sunday a friend and I created our own mindful retreat, and it was the most wonderful day that left me feeling recharged and renewed. We had it in her home in the city, so it’s totally doable wherever you live, and this post is about how to do it yourself.
You can do it on your own, however, I recommend pairing up with a friend, just because there’s a natural flow created by having someone else around and it requires less discipline to stick to the full plan. But if you don’t have anyone near you, don’t worry; you can have a lovely solo retreat as well.
Here’s how we did it:
We met at around 12 pm at my friend’s place, she has a small living room where we could spread out yoga mats and blankets for our practice. We played some calming nature sounds in the background (I love sounds of water, if you do too, here's an album you might like).
Begin with movement
We started out with self-guided movement for an hour. We both have our own practices, and I did a mixture of yoga, qi gong and mindful movement.
If you prefer being guided, I can recommend this yoga session with Adriene (she’s my personal go-to for guided home practices).
Sit in stillness
Then we sat for 30 minutes in silent meditation. My personal meditation practice consists of following the sensation of the breath moving in and out of my body. If you wish to be guided in meditation, here’s a variety of guided meditations that you can follow.
We had a 45-minute break where we made a simple lunch and ate together. We brought awareness to eating, however, we also allowed conversation. You can choose to eat in silence if you wish to have a more concentrated practice of mindful eating.
Go for a mindful walk
Fortunately, we live right next to a 10km long park in Valencia, so after finishing lunch we embarked on a mindful walk. Choose a route that works for you wherever you live. I suggest walking in or to a park if that’s an option.
We walked at a slow pace traversing around 3 km in about 45 – 60 minutes. When walking mindfully I keep my awareness on sensing each step I take. I pay attention to the sensation of the sole of my foot as it touches the ground, and even with shoes on I can feel the difference of the changing surfaces. The constant rhythm of the steps functions as an anchor for my awareness while I also focus on opening my senses to the world by noticing the smells, sounds, sights and the sensations of the air. You can get more inspiration on how to practice mindfulness while walking here.
Sit in meditation outside (if weather allows)
Then we found a peaceful spot in the park where we sat down to meditate in stillness. If the weather isn’t great you can obviously have this second sitting at home instead of in a park. I use my phone to set a timer. I like to use the free app insight timer because it has a lovely sound of Tibetan singing bowls, but you can also just use your alarm.
There’s something very grounding and nourishing about sitting outdoors while practicing meditation. Even if you’re not used to practicing on your own, I would recommend practicing by sensing your breath as it enters and exits your body. Whenever you find that you’ve been carried away by thoughts just gently bring your awareness back to the breath. That is the practice. I find there’s an extra layer of deepening when being present in nature without listening to audios, but this is of course just an invitation, feel free to practice as you prefer.
Rest in nature
Then we spent some time just resting in nature, we lay down observing the sky and the trees and just dosing off and letting the mind wander as it does naturally. This felt nourishing and complementary to the more focused practices.
End with a mindful walk
The last part of our retreat was another session of mindful walking, we walked back the same way we came from walking once again at a slow pace covering about 3 km in 45-60 minutes.
Wrap up with a hot shower
As I arrived home I took a nice hot shower using sea salt to scrub my whole body. Salt has both cleansing and circulatory benefits, and the shower left me feeling completely relaxed and ready to just snuggle up in bed with a good book.
We loved this day of practice so much that we agreed on making it a regular thing.
Here's an overview of a suggested schedule that you can use to create your own mindful retreat:
Movement 60 minutes
Meditation 30 minutes
Lunch Break 45 minutes
Mindful walking 45 – 60 minutes
Sitting meditation 30 minutes
Rest in nature 30 minutes
Mindful walking 45 – 60 minutes
If you do get to have your own retreat, I’d love to hear how it went. Tell me in the comments below or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
To all the women who’d love to have an in-depth retreat experience join us this summer in Spain for our Stillness & Sensuality Women’s Retreat. It will be a delicious deep-dive reconnecting us with being, beauty, breath, and body. Get all the details here.